Drones bring a 'mindblowing' level of data to claims: Allstate EVP

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As the insurance industry works to answer claims more efficiently, the adoption of digital tools, such as aerial imagery and artificial intelligence will prove pivotal for the industry in building up its reputation with customers.

That’s according to Ken Rosen, EVP and chief claims officer of Allstate, who delivered the opening keynote of Digital Insurance’s Dig|In: The Digital Future of Insurance conference in Austin, Tex. As a real-life example, Rosen recalled the events of the 2017 catastrophe season in the U.S to showcase how aforementioned emerging technologies will prove to essential going forward. The intent is to be able to respond to claims in minutes, as opposed to the days or weeks it would take traditionally, Rosen said.

During Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, which struck the U.S. in the span of two weeks last September, Allstate dispatched 3,000 employees to Texas and Florida — and that doesn't even count the contracted claims adjusters the carrier had working on site. Multiple workers were also stationed behind desks in mobile response units to help settle claims faster using photos uploaded via satellite, fixed-wing aircraft and drone technology.

“The level of specificity and data that comes in from drone photos blows my mind,” said Rosen, who had been chief claims officer of USAA before joining Allstate in 2017. “We can have adjusters in the office start the claims process before people even get behind the storm lines.”

Also see: 2017’s record hurricane season put insurance transformation to the test

Allstate dabbled with all forms aerial imagery prior to the 2017 CAT season, and operationalized its drone program earlier in the year. The company completed more than 5,000 flights for hail and small weather events before deploying the unmanned aircrafts for Harvey and Irma.

Drones, fixed-winged aircrafts and satellite imagery achieve the following, according to Rosen: the fast mobilization of internal resources to settle claims, a granular view of hundreds of policies in a particular area as well as before and after images. However, the use cases go beyond catastrophes, he says.

Contractors can leverage the technology on standard home roof or supplement auto claims. The option also exists for adjusters to stream live video of a loss, in order for employees to alter claims files immediately. As is the case with CAT claims, artificial intelligence is also leveraged derive insights from captured photos and video.

“There’s no need for adjusters to run back-and-forth,” Rosen said. “If a customer is on site, we also partake in a conversation with them through Facetime to answer any questions they may have, and provide an estimate the same day.”

Allstate’s goal is to help policyholders undergo the entire claims process, with minimal involvement. As an example, Allstate tracks weather patterns around the clock. If a family goes on vacation while a weather event approaches their home, the insurer can take photos, use AI to generate a cost estimate and send funds to a customer before they get back. Policyholders can then decide what contractor they want to work with.

“When something goes bad, I want the general public to think they have not just a company, but an entire industry behind them,” Rosen concluded. “We are at a tipping point to build better customer relationships, and digitalization is a game changer.”

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Claims Drones Customer experience Customer data Artificial intelligence Allstate USAA